As I have said all week, this was a major win because it likely meant we were in the tournament with two wins over Nebraska and Penn State while it would also likely eliminate Illinois as a contender for that berth. It was far from pretty, but Robbie Hummel was Robbie and he had Lewis Jackson dominating the first half and D.J. Byrd hitting some huge shots in the second half to win this one.
Now Illinois is far from an earth-shattering win, but it was a key win because it came on the road (giving us four road victories in league play) and it was hard earned. We faced a desperate team in their house and stayed in control (barely) throughout.
This is a much-needed relief. We didn't look as sharp as we have looked in the past two games, but tonight it was enough. I feel like a major part of this win goes to our defense. Travis Carroll frustrated Meyers Leonard all night. D.J. Richardson, one of their leading scorers, was held scoreless. Brandon Paul was held in check. If not for Tracy Abrams going crazy for 22 we win with ease.
On offense, our D.J. got the job done with three absolutely gigantic jumpers when the tide was starting to turn against us in the second half. That's two in a row the Byrdman has won. The Fighting Illini had switched to cover LewJack, so it was Byrd's time to step up.
Now it is time to get greedy. We should be able to hold serve at home against Penn State and Nebraska, but Sunday Michigan State comes to town. I'll be there, they'll be keeping score, so we might as well try to win the damn thing.
I'll have more in the morning because I just wanted to get this up, but let's sleep well tonight.